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OGA60 Jubilee Party: Ipswich Beacon Marina

Over 100 classic yachts, working boats and open boats with 320 skippers, crews, family and friends travelling by sea, road, rail or ferry began to arrive on the River Orwell, Wednesday 2 August, 2023. They came to welcome the return of the 15 OGA60 Round Britain Cruise boats and celebrate 60 years of the OGA, founded in 1963 here on the East Coast. Five of the circumnavigators come from the East Coast Area. As more and more boats arrived into ABP Beacon Marina, Ipswich the OGA welcoming committee, clad in bright orange t-shirts, were ably assisted with berthing new arrivals by a team of ABP staff, wearing their corporate orange hi-viz. There was a buzz of excitement as the VHF crackled, indicating another group of boats was approaching the lock. Pete Thomas, East Coast OGA Committee member, had made a careful assessment of who could raft against whom to fill the available spaces cleared by ABP for the event. Skippers hoisted their bunting and a party atmosphere began to grow as late arrivals were squeezed into their berths. We visited boats on the pontoons, meeting old friends and making new ones, then joined a tour of Spirit Yachts.

The Party started in earnest on Thursday afternoon with a Civic Reception, sponsored by Associated British Ports (ABP) and Ipswich Borough Council, addressed by the Mayor of Ipswich, Councillor Lynne Mortimer. Assisted by Paul Masters, Vice President of the East Coast OGA, the Mayor awarded individual plaques to each OGA60 RBC skipper, commemorating their achievement. The Reception was followed by an excellent supper at Party HQ, the recently restored, deconsecrated St Clement’s Church, formerly one of the mariners’ churches of Ipswich and looked after by the Ipswich Historic Churches Trust. The after-dinner speaker was the legendary dialect coach, hired by Netflix to train actors in the Suffolk accent for ‘The Dig’, Charlie Haylock.

On Friday morning, bright and early, BBC Radio Suffolk arrived to record the first of three interviews broadcast throughout the morning. Although starting bright and sunny, there were warnings of a change in the weather as skippers began to think about preparing to leave for the Parade of Sail while the lock was on ‘free flow’. Untangling all the careful rafting from Wednesday, striking the bunting and deciding about how many reefs may be needed, 80 classic yachts and working boats slowly departed ABP Beacon Marina.